Business owners have a legal duty to protect customers from suffering from negligent harm. For example, proprietors who do not keep the sidewalks free from slip-and-fall hazards could be held liable if someone tripped. Inanimate objects are not the only things store owners must be concerned about. The owners must not allow potentially dangerous loiterers from being allowed to congregate. Under the legal category of premises liability, property owners or renters must maintain a reasonably safe environment. If someone is mugged or attacked while entering the store, the owner could be held partially liable for injuries due to not taking the necessary steps to diminish growing danger.
Legally negligent mistakes a store owner could make include:
Not Posting No Loitering Signs
The presence of the sign acts as a clear statement the shop does not want people congregate in front of the store. Yes, signs can be ignored by those with ill-intentions. Still, the presence of the sign does show a store is definitively not encouraging loitering and is trying to deter such behavior. Not posting a sign could open legal claims the store is partially liable by omission. The omission, in this case, would be the failure to make it clear loitering is not acceptable.
Of course, the sign's warnings do have to be enforced in order to be truly effective and to further diminish liability.
Ignoring Aggressive Behavior
When those persons frequently congregating in front of an establishment verbally harass patrons, the seeds for future and more serious incidents are planted. In-your-face panhandling should not be ignored or condoned. Since these actions are taking place on a business' property, the owner shares responsibility. Ignoring the problem and allowing these situations to continue could lead to contributing negligence liability as a result. Not verbally requesting loiterers move along could be deemed a tacit approval of the behavior.
Never Calling the Police
Any store owner not capable of or not willing to directly engage loiterers in front of a store should call the police to handle matters. Failure to do so could be considered the shirking of one's responsibility to keep a particular area safe. While it is understandable store owners want to avoid trouble, proprietors do have to accept they have a responsibility to prevent harm from befalling anyone on or entering the premises.
A summons from a personal injury lawyer may be in the future for business owners who do not take action to address loitering. So, consider taking steps to deal with loiterers a necessary part of preserving one's business interests. Consult with a lawyer, like http://www.tarklaw.com, for more help.